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Old June 11 2013, 06:08 AM   #114
Paper Moon
Re: Into Darkness and the novelverse [SPOILERS]

Christopher wrote: View Post
Paper Moon wrote: View Post
There is nothing, I repeat, nothing about Khan's character that has anything to do with India, Sikhism, Asia (or Latin America) EXCEPT that his origins are "exotic". His character is "ethnic" for some of the worst reasons that Hollywood had during the late 60's: gasp! an exotic-looking non-white man! he must be quite fearsome!
As I said, I think it was actually nicely subversive, portraying an idea of a "genetically superior human" that was in direct opposition to the prevailing stereotype that genetically superior meant white.
That's a fair point. I think it may possibly have been both; Roddenberry hoping that the more progressive message would come through to those who could hear it, and the network muckymucks hoping to play to the base racism that was still omnipresent among so many Americans during the late sixties.

Khan Noonien Singh was given his name so that Roddenberry would have a small chance at being reunited with an old friend of his from WWII (Kim Noonien Singh).
Actually recent research by John and Maria Tenuto has revealed that the old friend was Chinese and was named Noonien Wang. Which cleared up a lot, because I could find no indication that "Noonien" was a name used by any South Asian culture.
Wow, that is a fascinating read! Thanks for passing it along! Still, it's clear that the character wasn't created to be a Sikh superman, but just a superman in general (with a Nordic background being the default for such characters).

The original script for "Space Seed" called for a Nordic superman, named Ragnar Thorwald (who, coincidentally, originally introduced himself as "John Ericssen"; wink wink, nudge nudge).
Apparently STID was actually filmed with Cumberbatch's character identified as Ericsson, but then they decided it was too much of a giveaway for Trekkies so they redubbed the dialogue and altered the graphic displays showing his name.
That's actually awesome. Hadn't heard that; if you don't mind my asking, do you have a source?

Cumberbatch got the role because he was the best actor for the story they wanted to tell. Frankly, if they had cast a Latino in the role, that would've perpetuated the destructive notion that all non-white ethnicities are somehow interchangeable.
Except, as stated, Sikhism is a religion, not an ethnic group. It'd be easy enough to assume that Khan was of European ancestry all along and was just raised in the Sikh faith or converted to it. That just leaves the change in accent to explain, but surely someone of superior abilities would be able to disguise his accent.
What you say is true, but beside the point, I think. Muslims are Muslims because of their faith, but that doesn't stop many people (American and otherwise) from treating "Muslim" as a term of ethnicity. As Roddenberry, Coon and Justman surely realized, many viewers would simply register "Sikh" as equivalent to "Other" or "exotic". The actual in-universe ethnicity of Khan Noonien Singh is technically irrelevant; what is at hand is the most common real-world understanding of what his ethnicity was supposed to be. In several key ways, that question boils down to, "Does he appear to be a nominally Judeo-Christian white person, yes or no?"

And if they had cast a South Asian? Honestly, that would've been really problematic for current, real-world sociopolitical reasons, perpetuating the deeply destructive notion that all "Muslims" (because, remember, a large segment of the the moviegoing public simply reads any non-Mongoloid Asian, or more generally, any non-Hispanic white person with darker complexion as "Muslim") are terrorists.
That's sadly true (I remember reading about a Sikh-American gas station owner being murdered shortly after 9/11), and Roberto Orci has said much the same thing in his comments on
Yeah. As much as the "whitewashing" of Khan might be problematic (my personal views aside), I think it would've been much, much worse if he had been perceived as a pseudo-Muslim.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Paper Moon wrote:
That line is interesting, though, particularly given how close the Neutral Zone (which the Enterprise always stayed in during the Kronos segments of the film) was to Kronos. Almost like it was at Oort cloud distance. (Obviously there were much closer, but that might have been the intention.)
I don't recall anything in the film giving any indication that the Neutral Zone was that close to Kronos. They had to be far enough away to avoid sensor detection, and to need to fly in on a warp-capable scout ship. The plan was to fire torpedoes from there, but torpedoes have often been portrayed as capable of travel at warp.
When the Enterprise is thrown out of warp due to sabotage, they are close enough to send the scout ship to Kronos (and are close enough to see Kronos way off in the distance; it's really small, easy to miss if you aren't looking carefully); their orders were to go "to the edge of the Neutral Zone" and as far as I know, they never said anything about having broken those orders.

Last edited by Paper Moon; June 11 2013 at 06:04 PM.
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